What Is WinSxS Cleanup and Why Is It Important?

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If you’ve ever spent any time  looking through folders of files on a computer, you’ll know it’s easy to come across some you’ve never heard of or might not know their purpose. That includes items with names like WinSxS, which exist on your system in folders you didn’t create. You might thus be hesitant (and rightfully so!) to delete them, because what if they’re something crucial to your device’s operations?

WinSxS is a Windows system folder that stores files necessary to recover your system. System updates can be downloaded onto your system then stored in your WinSxS folder. Your WinSxS folder is valuable, and it must be evaluated and cleaned up regularly. This guide provides insights into WinSxS cleanup, why it is important, and how to optimize your disk space.

What Is WinSxS?

The disk space available on a new Windows computer may seem endless, but it can quickly disappear if you ignore your WinSxS folder. Your WinSxS folder stores all the files required to run past versions of system applications. It may be several gigabytes in size.

WinSxS Folder Functions

The WinSxS folder is important to system maintenance and recovery. There are many reasons why you need it, but these are five of the most common uses: 

1. You Can Save Different Versions of System Files

Your WinSxS folder lets you simultaneously save multiple versions of Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) and other system files. These files are stored in a single location and accessible at your convenience. 

2. You Can Activate or Deactivate Windows Functions

Your WinSxS folder provides access to files required to enable and disable specific Windows functions while the OS is running. It empowers you to start or stop these functions, and it won’t require you to install them separately. 

3. You Can Add Roles in Server Operating Systems

Your WinSxS folder can be used to add Network Policy Access Services, Active Directory Domain Services, and other Windows server operating system roles. 

4. You Can Restore Your System

Your WinSxS folder contains the files you need to restore your system. It allows you to recover old versions of system programs so you can boot your system in recovery mode. 

5. You Can Remove Defective System Updates

Your WinSxS folder saves previous versions of your system. This ensures you can restore a prior version of your system if defective system updates are installed. 

It is a good idea to monitor and maintain your WinSxS folder as often as possible. How you manage your WinSxS folder impacts your system’s performance, functionality, and effectiveness. 

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How to Manage a WinSxS Folder

You can manage different aspects of the WinSxS folder through various Windows system maintenance tools. These will help you keep it in top condition and control backup bloat:

1. Use Windows Disk Cleanup 

Disk Cleanup in Windows lets you clean up the WinSxS folder without a third-party program. You can access Disk Cleanup by entering cleanmgr.exe into the Windows command window. 

2. Evaluate Your Files

Review the files in your WinSxS folder to determine which ones you want to delete. Your WinSxS folder may contain downloaded program, temporary internet, delivery optimization, temporary, and other files. Select only the files you are certain you want to remove; you cannot restore these files after they are deleted from your WinSxS folder.  

3. Analyze Disk Space

Look up the amount of disk space you can free up by removing WinSxS files. You can see the size of system folders in Explorer, but this information won’t necessarily match your actual disk space due to hard links to existing files. 

4. Remain Patient 

Delete unnecessary program versions from your WinSxS folder only if your system has been running efficiently for at least a few months. Those who remove WinSxS files too soon may lose the ability to downgrade to older versions of apps.

5. Conduct Regular Cleanups

Perform a cleanup of your WinSxS folder at regular intervals. Cleanups can be completed as frequently as you would like, and each cleanup won’t take long to perform. 

Other programs are available to help you clean up your WinSxS folder and save disk space. You can use these in conjunction with Disk Cleanup in Windows to maximize your available space. 

6 Ways to Save Disk Space

There is only so much disk space you can save by removing these files. Other methods you can use to save disk space include:

1. Deactivate System Hibernation

Windows creates a system snapshot when it is in hibernation mode. You can easily deactivate this function to free up additional disk space. 

2. Transfer User Profiles and Program Files to an External Hard Drive

Move user profiles and program files from your system to an external hard drive. This ensures you can keep your information safe without sacrificing your system’s disk space. 

3. Leverage Cloud Storage

A cloud storage solution lets you safely store massive amounts of data offsite. Utilize cloud storage that allows you to seamlessly access data from any device with an internet connection.

4. Remove Duplicate Files

Keep an eye out for any duplicate files and remove them. Third-party apps can help you automatically discover and delete duplicate files. 

5. Reset Your System

A system reset is a great option if cleaning up your Windows folders does not deliver the desired results. You can also conduct a reset that ensures your installed programs and personal files will remain intact. 

6. Permanently Delete Unwanted Files With a Digital File Shredder

“Deleted” files have a way of hanging out in backup, temp, and archive folders. That’s a security and privacy risk, and it takes up space on your drives. A digital shredder — ideally one that’s physically separate from the computer, like those connected by USB — lets you destroy files permanently and be sure they’re gone for good.

You want a fast, efficient system, and performing WinSxS cleanup offers a terrific starting point for achieving your goal. The cleanup process can be beneficial, but you need to plan accordingly for it.

Common Risks of WinSxS Cleanup

The urge to conduct a comprehensive WinSxS cleanup can be overwhelming. Those who are not careful risk deleting too many files, which can hamper your system’s performance. Problems you may encounter if you remove important system files during WinSxS cleanup include:

  • System no longer boots up
  • System updates cannot be installed
  • System functions do not perform as expected

It helps to periodically organize your WinSxS files, see which ones are required, and remove those you do not need. This allows you to consistently keep your system running at top levels. A digital file deletion device can help you remove unwanted files from your system, letting you instantly delete any system files you choose. 

Contact an Expert with Questions About How to Save Disk Space

Your system disk space is limited, and you want to make the most of it. The Shred Cube helps you do just that. Shred Cube is a permanent file erasure device that securely removes excess data. It lets you quickly and effortlessly delete unwanted files from your system, with the guarantee that they will never be recovered. 

Contact us today for more information about our digital file shredding solution.

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